The Timely Adventures of Rachel Evans: Chill and Share the Trees, Man
May 22, 2013
“How much ale did you give her, Will?” Robin nodded at her cup.
"Oh, please. This is nothing." Rachel made a stern face and then hiccupped. "This is nice, but nothing to worry about." She took a sip and smiled pleasantly at Robin Hood, who was real and standing right in front of her like it was completely normal. For him, she supposed it was.
"Very well then, Rachel-on-a-quest." Robin folded his arms against his chest. "Perhaps you would be so good as to tell me what you’re doing in my forest."
"You’re all very possessive of a bunch of trees." Rachel said. "Your forest, the king’s forest. Haven’t you ever tried 'just chill and let chill,' share the trees, man?” Oh god, she sounded like a hippie.
Robin raised an eyebrow at that. "Who else have you been talking to?"
"Soldiers," Rachel said, feeling slightly sad. "They took my brother away." Maybe she had had enough. She’d certainly never gotten that upset over something like this back home. Of course, nothing like this had ever really happened back home. That one time she lost Hunter at Target didn’t count.
Robin’s expression softened slightly. "I’m sorry for that."
"He didn’t even do anything." Rachel added with another hiccup. "It’s unfair." If this was the way they ran things around here, no wonder people became outlaws.
"That’s why she’s here," Will told him. "She wants to get him back."
"And my best friend." Rachel hiccupped again. "She’s out there somewhere," she gestured at the trees vaguely.
Robin knelt in front of her, resting an arm on his knee. "So your brother’s been taken, and you’ve lost your friend. This is a sorry day indeed."
"It’s all my fault." Rachel said sadly. "Leigh didn’t even want to come this time. And Hunter, he had no idea what he was getting into." Just the thought of what could be happening to him made her want to punch something. And maybe cry a little.
Robin laid a hand on her knee. "Everything will be all right." He smiled at her, and Rachel smiled back in spite of herself. This, she realized, was why people followed Robin Hood, why they believed in him. He had one of those faces that made you want to believe in him and dangerous eyes that made you want to risk terrible things. Robin squeezed her knee and then straightened up again.
Two seconds later Rachel realized that what Robin had said was the sort of thing the Doctor would say, and it wasn’t exactly a promise of anything in particular. Sneaky devil. She eyed Robin with new respect.
Robin started cutting pieces off of the roasting pig and placing them on wooden trenchers Alan had set out. "How did you come to be in Sherwood?"
"Oh, you know," Rachel said ambiguously. "We were just traveling through. The woods. Like you do."
Robin shot her a look that said he didn’t buy a single word of it. "You, and your brother and, who else was it?"
"And she’s here in Sherwood?" Robin handed two trenchers to her and Will.
"Somewhere, yes." At least Rachel certainly hoped so. She didn’t really want to think about it if the PD had screwed up and sent Leigh elsewhere. On the other hand, if it had sent her to Sherwood in the present day, she was probably just staying at the nearby youth hostel and enjoying a full English and a cup of coffee.
Robin frowned. "She shouldn’t be on her own in Sherwood after dark."
"She’s very capable." Rachel told him. "But I do worry." To be fair, she was more worried for the other people who ran into Leigh if they happened to be so unfortunate.
"Still, Sherwood is no place at night for those unfamiliar with it." Robin turned to Stutely, and George. "Have a look and see if you can find her."
"She’s about yay by yay," Rachel gestured. "And she’s probably blending in with the trees, so you should probably poke them a little, shake them around and what not. In case, you know, camouflage. Stealth tactics."
Robin just looked at her in a bemused manner and then back at the outlaws. "Quick patrol and then back to camp. If you don’t find her, we’ll look again in the morning."
"Right," Rachel said. And then because she thought that might sound ungrateful, she said, "Thank you." It was something at least, even if it didn’t feel like enough. Nothing felt like enough. Her friend was missing and there was nothing she could do.
Robin just nodded. "Eat up. The food will do you good."
It did smell delicious. Rachel sat there and ate her pork and listened to the merry men singing a song about what sounded like a hedgehog in a dale, whatever that meant. The chorus was very catchy.
Eventually they let the fire die down till it was only embers and Will loaned her a cloak to use for a blanket. Rachel was dozing slightly by the time the two outlaws returned.
"Any luck?" Robin asked quietly, glancing at Rachel, who kept her eyes half closed as she listened.
"Not a sign of her." George sighed. "We went as far as the stream, but nothing."
"We’ll go further in the morning," Robin murmured. "If I hadn’t sent the rest of the men off to Barnsdale, we could cover more ground."
"We’ll find her." Stutely reassured him. "One lass, in our forest? How far could she go?"
How far indeed? Rachel wondered. Why had the PD separated them this time? Surely Leigh had to be somewhere close by. Hunter had been fairly close by when they were transported here. Leigh couldn’t be that far away, could she?
She curled up under her borrowed cloak and stared at the tree branches above her head. Sherwood at night was dark and, verging on the creepy side.
Off on the other side of the camp she could hear Alan singing a quiet ballad about the sea. It wasn’t Ke$ha but was nice all the same. Rachel fell asleep at last listening to it.
To be continued...